How did Columbus become the USMNT’s spiritual home, and will it continue to be?


In the U.S. soccer ecosystem, there are no shortage of cities claiming to be the “home” of the sport in this country. Portland dubs itself “Soccer City, U.S.A.,” for starters. Washington, D.C., has held its share of memorable matches at the soon-to-be-demolished RFK Stadium, while fans in Seattle; Kansas City, Missouri; and elsewhere have done their bit to evolve the sport’s fan culture.

Yet when one thinks of the spiritual home for the U.S. men’s national team, it’s hard to argue against Columbus, Ohio.

The USMNT has played a total of 12 matches in Ohio’s capital city. Ten of those have been World Cup qualifiers — no city has been home to more qualifying wins that the seven in Columbus — with five of them against bitter rivals Mexico. And yes, from those matches against El Tri came the birth of “Dos a Cero,” the fixture’s uncanny ability — for a time, anyway — to crank out 2-0 score lines in favor of the U.S. Along the way, some of the most iconic moments in U.S. soccer history took place.

On Wednesday, Columbus will once again host a World Cup qualifier, this time against Costa Rica at newly minted Field (coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN2). For adopted son Frankie Hejduk, the city’s love for the sport started out as a slow burn but is now in full flame.

“When I moved to Columbus, it was my dream to make this city a soccer town,” the former Columbus Crew and U.S. international defender said. “I knew it was a [college] football town. I thought, ‘Let’s make this a soccer town.’ Now with the players getting what they have, the stadium that we have, downtown, right in the buzz of things, I’m in a happy place. Hopefully we get another victory here in Columbus.”

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“The catalyst was to win the game”

Just how World Cup qualifiers ended up in Columbus was down to a seemingly intractable problem: How to…

Source : espn

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